Reliability, Not Economy, Dictates Transmission Line

Fortnightly Magazine - April 15 1996
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The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has approved a proposal by Sierra Pacific Power Co. to construct a 345-kilovolt overhead transmission line, but not simply to gain access to low-cost power. Instead, the CPUC appeared to emphasize concern over reliability.

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Sierra Pacific, involved in merger plans with The Washington Water Power Co., had cited access to low-cost power from the Bonneville Power Administration as an important reason to build the transmission line. But the CPUC discounted such economic concerns: "No weight can be given to the role of the Project in providing access to new markets for economy energy."

The CPUC said the project was necessary for system reliability, and that such concerns outweighed potential harm to the environment. According to the CPUC, Sierra Pacific had failed to prove that sufficient capacity would be available on the spot market when the power was needed. It added: "Opportunistic energy purchases do not, by themselves, justify investment in a major transmission line." Re Sierra Pacific Pwr. Co., Decision 96-01-012, Application 93-11-018, Jan. 10, 1996 (Cal.P.U.C.).

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